On the face of it, Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s current series of paintings is made up of a set of simple components: light and colour. The traditional components of painting. Plus boxes. Painted ones. Open to the front. Acting as a kind of frame. Traditional too you might say. And then, of course, there’s the deployment of all of these – light, colour, boxes – to create the illusion of an enclosed, three- dimensional space. Often toplit via a circular opening in the box. A spotlight of sorts. And in the boxes, beneath the light are a series of brightly coloured children’s toys, and playground slides and rides (configured in ways that are invented by the artist), all depicted as if, well, thanks to the artist’s skill at creating trompe l’œil, fresh out of the box.
There’s a grinning, plush, child’s clown, its colourful outfit allaying any fears of any It-like manifestation. A song of innocence if you like. Other boxes contain a toy elephant on wheels painted in a slickly glossy red, or a white, wooden horse of similar design. Or a more modern playground horse made up of translucent plastic-looking silhouettes mounted on a coiled spring. Another variant offers a kind of aluminium-looking unicycle from which rears a horse’s head. And the handles that make it ridable. For all that they are enclosed, at times even claustrophobic, the boxes also offer a space of fantasy. A space of play. A memorial to the joys of childhood. A form of nostalgia for those of us who are adults. Or hope for those of us who think the time for play is at an end.
— Mark Rappolt, Editor-in-Chief of ArtReview and author